The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The paper takes a closer look at offshore banking—a pervasive practice that has played a role in recent crises. Offshore banking is an increasingly attractive alternative to the sometimes heavily regulated financial markets of emerging economies. From a microeconomic vantage point, offshore banks seem to exploit the risk-return tradeoff by being more profitable than onshore banks, and in many instances also more leveraged. Risks stemming from offshore activities may be easily transmitted onshore with systemic consequences. Current prudential and supervisory frameworks are broadly adequate for risk management if effectively and universally implemented.